Vol. 10: Parnell, J. T.

Type: Article

Parnell, J. T. ‘‘Que sçais-je?’—Montaigne’s Apology, Hamlet and Tristram Shandy: Enquiry and Sceptical Response’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 10 (1995), Pp 148-155.

While contemporary critics considered Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy to be a work of plagiarism, modern critics celebrate it for “laying bare of the conditions of literary production”. This article discusses the intertextuality of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, with particular reference to Sterne’s literary allusions to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Montaigne’s Apology. Parnell acknowledges the contextualities explored by one recent critic, Jonathan Lamb, but criticizes the limits that Lamb imposes through a narrow view of Sterne’s influences. Like Swift and Montaigne, “Sterne is intellectually radical and the discourse of his fiction clearly has subversive potential, and yet such potential is paradoxically contained and appropriated for conservative ends”. Parnell maintains that Sterne consciously alluded to particular works popular during the eighteenth century in order to make Tristram Shandy more comprehensible to his readers.